Cops’ shock find in drug mule dad’s car

Simon Andrew Cross was caught with $4.3m in drug cash during a traffic stop.

A building manager and father turned drug mule unknowingly ran millions of dollars for a “significant” trafficking syndicate, a role that ended when he was pulled over carrying $4.3m in his car.

Simon Andrew Cross admitted he didn’t know he was dropping off wads of cash for $1000 per drop, only that he knew it wasn’t lawful and “assumed the risk” in taking part in the syndicate’s actions.

Cross’s offending was detailed during his sentencing at Brisbane District Court on Monday as a small group of supporters watched from the public gallery.

He ultimately walked free with a suspended jail term in lieu of prison time.

Simon Andrew Cross pleaded guilty at Brisbane District Court to a single count of money laundering recklessly. Picture: NCA NewsWire / John Gass

The court was told police were investigating a “significant” drug trafficking syndicate operating across Queensland, Victoria, NSW and the Northern Territory in 2020.

Up to $7m in proceeds and 130kg of the drug cannabis had been seized during police crackdowns connected to the alleged syndicate.

Between April 20 and July 8, 2020, Cross participated in dead drops for the syndicate by taking large sums of money and driving it to another place.

The court was told another man Cross had met through work had offered him cash for the drops, sending instructions through an encrypted phone.

“Your job was limited to dropping off and picking up packages and delivering the package to a designated address,” District Court Judge Tony Moynihan KC said.

“You were paid approximately $1000 per drop.

“It turns out the packages contained cash, the proceeds of drug trafficking... (and) on occasions, a very substantial amount.”

Cross was ultimately undone when he was intercepted by police carrying $4.3m concealed in a suitcase and box in his car in July 2020.

A station wagon was intercepted by police on the Pacific Motorway around 8.30am. A subsequent search of the vehicle uncovered $4.35 million in cash notes stacked inside a suitcase and a box. Picture: Supplied / Queensland Police
Police seized $4.3m cash (pictured) from Cross’s car, concealed in a suitcase and box. Picture: Supplied / Queensland Police

He told police he did not know what property he was delivering, only that they were likely to be “illegal” items

The court was told Cross conducted 10 drops on five different occasions – receiving about $8500 for his work.

Cross pleaded guilty to a single count of money laundering recklessly during Monday’s sentencing.

Gerard Elmore, acting for Cross, submitted a bundle of material that included references to his client’s good character from friends as well as a letter of remorse.

He said Cross was otherwise of “excellent character” who was turned to this position needing the promised money.

The court was told Cross did not willingly seek out work with the syndicate.

The court was told Cross had told police he did not directly know what he was dropping off and picking up, only that the items were likely ‘not legal’. Picture: NCA NewsWire / John Gass

“For those reasons, his risk of reoffending is low,” Mr Elmore said.

“He’s someone who comes before the court with no criminal history, other than this.”

Mr Elmore said Cross had engaged in rehabilitation, asking Judge Moynihan to impose a suspended sentence in lieu of a jail term.

In handing the 2.5 year wholly suspended sentence, Judge Moynihan acknowledged Cross did not have direct knowledge of what he was carrying during his time working for the syndicate.

“You recklessly did it anyway, assuming the risk,” he said.

Judge Moynihan otherwise took into account Cross’s employment – including a glowing reference from his current employer – and his stable 17-year relationship.